As darkness sets on a parched West Texas river bottom, a little owl peers out of a hole in a sycamore tree. It’s an Elf Owl, the world’s tiniest owl.
The Elf Owl is a little bird that measures less than six inches tall and weighs approximately an ounce and a half, which is roughly the size of a golf ball.
It’s also a vicious hunter. The Elf Owl comes from its tree hollow at dusk to hunt beetles, crickets, spiders, and the rare lizard or mouse.
Larger prey, like as scorpions, may even be retained in the nest after the stingers have been removed for subsequent eating.
Elf Owls may be found in the woods and among the desert cacti in southwest Texas and southern Arizona.
In arid locations, they usually nest in woodpecker holes in tall saguaro cactus.
Elf owls, like other owls, are deadly silent. The rushing sound produced by airflow across the bird’s wings is typical.
Owl wings, on the other hand, have little extensions on the front edge and a fringe of feathers on the back edge that reduce noise by breaking up the airflow.
Almost majority of the remaining noise is absorbed by the soft feathers on the wings and legs. Critters have no notion what is about to happen until it is too late.
Throughout October, they depart the United States for Mexico’s warmer latitudes, where insects are more numerous in the winter.
However, spring arrives early in the American Southwest, and the tiny owls return in late February or early March, anxious to begin their breeding season.
After the spring, females lay one to four eggs, which hatch in three weeks.
Dad first brings food back for mom and the chicks, but after a few weeks, mom goes food searching to feed the growing brood.
Elf owls prefer to flee rather than fight, however they have been observed mobbing predators such as great horned owls.
A few elf owls dive-bomb the larger owl, emitting loud alarm calls, and soon more birds, sometimes of different sorts, join in.